We call it ‘blog fodder’ here in Blogtopia.
It can come in dribs and drabs; all shapes and sizes. It might be an image from months ago that keeps cycling on your slideshow or it could be a funny story told table-side with the kids.
There is never a shortage of blog fodder in my head. And yet I have not blogged. This random fact was thrown in there for good measure because it has catapulted me into a new realm of self-doubt. As if the old realm was not doubtful enough.
This past weekend, with a few serious deadlines looming for my monthly magazine article contributions, I figured there’d be loads of blog fodder to choose from and my mojo would be back in full swing and I’d get to blogging. I was right. The only problem I have now, is what to do with all the blog fodder.
It all started with me being a dumbass. This story can only get better folks.
Instead of going to the place where I usually buy my fish I decided to cut some corners, saving on fuel and time in the process, by shopping at a fish store near the grocery shop.
Spying their nice large fish tank I caught a glimpse of several different types of crab. The smaller and sassier of the bunch being right on top. I asked the fishmonger, a young fella, what they were and he said ‘Velvet crab’. I, loosing all sense and sensibility which could be the segway into explaining exactly how dumb I really am, queried with raised eyebrow and hopeful intonation ‘Velvet crab as in soft shell crab?’ And he said ‘yep. Softshell’.
Six in the bag with care, because they are mean little buggers, along side a few firm pieces of hake and a few bags of mussels and clams, I drove home on cloud ninety nine dreaming of the po-boy sandwich I was going to get the Chef to make me for lunch. Salivating at the thoughts of the creole, cornmeal, and cajun flavours that were about to whirl around my (ha ha), ahem HIS kitchen, I could hardly wait to sit at the computer and start blogging-all-about it.
Except, and this is the important part showing my dumb-assed-ness, they weren’t really soft shell crabs, were they.
The Chef, in his loves-to-humiliate-me kind of way, pointed out my grievous error as soon as I walked in the door. He may have even laughed a bit. Chef in his slow sarcastic drawl: ‘You’ve been had honey. These are hard as a rock. There ain’t no softshells in these cool Irish waters’. Me with my over-the-top-defensive-beeatch-tone :’ well ain’t is not a word and you can’t use ain’t no in a sentence as it is a double negative!
Sensing, and he is not very perceptive God love him, that I was on the brink of having a nervous breakdown over the crab disaster, he busied himself about the kitchen and put the little crabs to work.
First – he popped them into a bath of boiling saffron water and much to the childrens delight they turned a gorgeous orange colour. Then he fried some chicken. WTF?
Hey – I have to live with him so it is only fair that you be dragged along in his thought process.
So, eh, Chef. Why the fried Chicken? He gave me one of those looks that every woman loves to get from their husband. You know, the ‘Jesus, how thick are you?’ look. So there I was, already annoyed and humiliated over my lack of knowledge when it came to ‘obvious differences?’ between velvet and soft shell crabs, racking my brains to come up with something, anything, smart to retort back to the saucy Chef. I had to redeem myself.
I am a slow thinker lads. Way too slow. Nothing. I just stood there.
‘Jambalaya crawfish pie and file gumbo’ he sang and danced me around the kitchen.
Grrr….it might have been obvious to him in his own head but NO ONE else would have put those two together! I mean, there are no crawfish in the shopping bag or prawns! Apparently, if you are the Chef, you can use whatever you want when making Jambalaya.
I gave up and slunk off like a battered slinky to collect my thoughts. I did a spot of ironing and felt all the better for it.
The smell of the brown roux engulfed the house and before you say ’cause tonight I’m a gonna see my machez a mio’… we were all sitting table side eating Cioppino. Yes. I really did write Cioppino.
I mean, he was eating Jambalaya. Here – look. It was lovely.
Yes. So back to the Cioppino. Well. This is how he works.
I have trouble digesting bell peppers. Not all the time, but when you cook ‘em in a hurry and do not roast ‘em they spend days trying to find there way out. So, I tend to steer clear of them. He knows this and is most sesnsitive to this.
Seeing as he had the saffron broth all set aside from steaming the crabs he decided to throw together a bowl of Cioppino for me. Because it is my favourite dish of all times. I was feeling the love.
This recipe uses a diavolo sauce. Click here for that recipe!
- SAFFRON BROTH
- 3 cups (720 ml) water
- Fish bones
- Trimming from a bulb of fennel
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) white wine
- A nice pinch of saffron
- 1 lb (450 g) assorted fish, not smoked
- 1/2 bag of mussels (scrubbed clean and de-bearded)
- 1/2 bag of clams (scrubbed clean)
- 8 oz (225 g) calamari (cut into rings)
- 3 cups of Saffron broth (or clam broth/fish stock)
- 1 bulb of fennel, sliced thinly
- 2 cups (480 ml) diavolo sauce
- 1 tablespoon butter
- A handful of chopped parsley
- SAFFRON BROTH
- Place all ingredients into a pot and bring to the boil.
- Simmer for a half and hour then strain.
- Season the fish on both sides and sauté in olive oil in a large pan.
- Deglaze with broth and add diavolo sauce.
- Add the sliced fennel.
- Throw in the mussels, clams and calamari and cover for a few minutes until the shell fish have opened up.
- Finish with butter and parsley
- Serve in a large bowl along side a loaf of homemade garlic bread.
- You can be flexible with the fish obviously. We used the crab. Just do not use smoked fish.
- Best served with a crisp white wine but beer works too. If you want to make it spicier then add more heat to the diavolo sauce.
So anyway, to make a long story even longer, what exactly happened to all the crab meat? I mean, there was a bit in the Jambalaya, and a bit in the Cioppino, but not huge chunks of it.
I was suspicious until all was revealed later that night for supper. I am sure some of you have already guessed it.
Yep. Crabcakes. Perfect, round, delicious, dare I say ‘velvety’ freaking crabcakes.
Now, we all know why they are called ‘Velvet Crabs’.
Go home. Eat dinner with someone you love and laugh about this.
I remain, still clueless, on most topics.
Those are all the WiseWords I have for today and thank you all for being here!
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I am a native Galway girl that seems to be drawn to professions that rhyme with 'err'. Writer, Mother, Restauranteur, Wedding Planner, Dishwasher, Grass cutter, Cocktail maker. I suppose you could say I am a well rounded entrepreneur.
You can find me here
About the Chef
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You might as well just come visit.
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